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Car Bumper Protector From your Garage Door - Solving for scratches

posted Dec 22, 2012, 7:08 AM by Douglas Ring   [ updated Jan 28, 2013, 1:31 PM ]
Have you had the misfortune of closing your garage door only to find you were parked just a hair too close to the garage door?  Do you have a scratch on your bumper to prove it?  It's happened to me and many others from what I can discern.

There doesn't appear to be anything yet on the market that solves for this despite several US patents having been granted to address the problem.  Take a look at Joseph Verheye's patent to better understand the problem and find out how he addresses it.  Each of the 3 patents solve the problem different ways. 
I think I've found a better, cheaper, more user friendly way to solve the problem using commonly available items widely available at your local home improvement stoor or online.  I'll be quick to note up front each garage door will have a different size and shape of hinges attached to the door.

This is the hinge in our home that I was trying to solve the problem for. It's a simple hinge because there is no tilting, lifting and movement of the hinge pieces in the offending area.  It's much easier to solve for... So we'll skip solving for this one and work towards a more universal solution that benefits many size hinges.
I went to Home Depot and picked one of these up to experiment with.  I'm a big fan of Sugru so I started there.  I applied Sugru to the hinge as shown above.  The hinge though had to bend to open the garage door... which means the Sugru was going to lift up and this wasn't going to cut it.  I thought I'd try to put a gap in between the two portions of Sugru to allow for lifting just to see what might come of it.
 Here's another shot showing a rather nasty looking view of the Sugru lightly applied to the top of the hinge.  On a side note, Sugru is a great simple material that allows for rapid prototyping.  If you have CAD and a 3D printer, or can make it into Staples to 3D print, you may want to skip this route.  In my case it was just what I needed because of its rubber properties.
Here's the lifting problem I realized I was going to encounter.  The Sugru lifts, but overall its flimsy and a rather poor attempt at a solution.  I decided to sit down and do some more serious brainstorming to see what I could come up with.
 A few days later I traced the side of the above hinge piece and made a 'mirror image' of the part formed out of 3 packs of Sugru.  I added yellow Sugru on top to make an additional hump/bumper.  After several days of curing and other distractions, the result was a hard piece of rubber.  I later made a second and drilled a 3/8" hole in both. 
 I returned to Home Depot to pick up a 3/8" threaded rod that fit solid through the opening center hinge core.  Two nuts and wide washers were used to hold the Sugru hinge protector in place.

Note the white color paper attached to the black Sugru.  This was my traced template.  You can see the shape was enlarged on the top to be higher than the metal hinge.
Another view of the hinge protector applied to a working garage door hinge.
This photo shows the garage door opening with the panels bending. Notice how the shape allows the panels to open when the hinge bends? 
A different view... :)  And here's a video of the door opening and closing.

 Wide view of same door showing more than one hinge would need to be protected.
In an upcoming post I'll explain in more detail how to build your own.